LPPR: Peter McWilliams, a Martyr to the War on Drugs
NEWS FROM THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY
2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web: http://www.LP.org
For release: June 17, 2000
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
Bestselling author Peter McWilliams
is "murdered by the War on Drugs"
WASHINGTON, DC -- Peter McWilliams, the #1 bestselling author
and medical marijuana activist who was found dead in California on June
14, was murdered by the War on Drugs, the Libertarian Party charged
"Peter McWilliams would not be dead today if not for the
heartless, lethal War on Drugs," said Steve Dasbach, the party's
national director. "The federal government killed Peter McWilliams by
denying him the medical marijuana he needed to stay alive as surely as
if its drug warriors had put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
"Peter McWilliams may be dead, but the causes he so bravely
fought for -- access to life-saving medicine, an end to the War on
Drugs, and greater freedom for all Americans -- will live on."
On Wednesday, McWilliams was found dead in the bathroom of his
Los Angeles home. According to sources, he had choked on his vomit.
McWilliams, 50, had suffered from AIDS and non-Hodgkin's
lymphoma since 1996, and had used medical marijuana to suppress the
nausea that was a common side-effect to the potent medications needed
to keep him alive.
The marijuana was completely legal, thanks to California's
Proposition 215, which passed in 1996 and legalized the use of
marijuana for treatment of illness. However, in late 1997, McWilliams
was arrested by federal drug agents and charged with conspiracy to sell
After a federal judge ruled that McWilliams could not mention
his illnesses at his trial -- or introduce as evidence any of the
documented benefits of medical marijuana -- he pled guilty to avoid a
10-year mandatory-minimum prison sentence.
While out on bail awaiting sentencing, McWilliams was
prohibited from using medical marijuana -- and being denied access to
the drug's anti-nausea properties almost certainly caused his death,
"First, the federal government arrested McWilliams for doing
something that is 100% legal in California," he said. "Then, they put
him on trial and wouldn't allow him to introduce the one piece of
evidence that could have explained his actions. Finally, they let him
out of jail on the condition that he couldn't use the one medicine that
kept him alive.
"What the federal government did to Peter McWilliams is nothing
less that cold-blooded, premeditated murder. A good, decent, talented
man is dead because of the bipartisan public policy disaster known as
the War on Drugs."
Ironically, on June 9, McWilliams appeared on the "Give Me A
Break!" segment of ABC Television's 20/20, where host John Stossel
noted, "McWilliams is out of prison on the condition that he not
smoke marijuana, but it was the marijuana that kept him from vomiting
up his medication. I can understand that the federal drug police don't
agree with what some states have decided to do about medical marijuana,
but does that give them the right to just end run those laws and lock
"Give me a break! It seems this War on Drugs often does more
harm than the drugs themselves."
Five days later, McWilliams was dead.
McWilliams, the owner of Prelude Press, was a multi-million-
copy-selling author of How to Survive the Loss of a Love, The
Personal Computer Book, and DO IT! Let's Get Off Our Buts (with co-
author John-Roger), a #1 New York Times bestseller. He also wrote what
is widely considered to be the definitive book against "consensual"
crimes, Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do.
He joined the Libertarian Party in 1998 following a nationally
televised speech at the Libertarian National Convention in Washington,
In that speech, McWilliams said, "Marijuana is the finest anti-
nausea medication known to science, and our leaders have lied about
this consistently. [Arresting people for] medical marijuana is the most
hideous example of government interference in the private lives of
individuals. It's an outrage within an outrage within an outrage."
McWilliams' death was also noted by Libertarians in his home
"Peter McWilliams was a true hero who fought and ultimately
gave his life for what he believed in: The right to heal oneself
without government interference," said Mark Hinkle, state chair of the
California Libertarian Party.
"His loss opens a gaping hole in the fabric of liberty, but his
memory will live on not only in the hearts of grateful Libertarians but
also in the lives of the countless patients who will take up the
crusade for health freedom."